May 12


President Theodore Roosevelt’s trip to San Francisco was captured on moving-picture film, making him one of the first presidents to have an official activity recorded in that medium. A cameraman named H.J. Miles filmed the president while riding in a parade in his honor. The resulting short move was titled The President’s Carriage and was later played on “nickelodeons” in arcades across America. Roosevelt was the first president to take advantage of the impact motion pictures could have on the presidency. The photogenic president encouraged filmmakers to document his official duties and post-presidential personal activities until his death in 1919.


The young and unknown Bob Dylan walked off the set of The Ed Sullivan Show, the country’s highest-rated variety show, after network censors rejected the song he planned on performing. The song was “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues,” a satirical talking-blues number skewering the ultra-conservative John Birch Society and its tendency to see covert members of an international Communist conspiracy behind every tree. CBS lawyers feared a resulting defamation lawsuit, but Dylan would not change the lyrics or song. The story got widespread media attention in the days that followed, causing Ed Sullivan himself to denounce the network’s decision in published interviews. The free press may have done more for Dylan's career than any national-television appearance could have.


The U.S. freighter Mayaguez and its 39-man crew was captured by gunboats of the Cambodian navy, which was controlled by communist insurgents, the Khmer Rouge. President Gerald Ford called the seizure an “act of piracy” and promised swift action to rescue the captured Americans. Ford ordered the bombing of the Cambodian port where the gunboats had come from and sent Marines to attack the island of Koh Tang, where the prisoners were being held. In part, Ford’s aggressive attitude to the incident was a by-product of the American failure in Vietnam. Unfortunately, the military action was probably unnecessary. The Cambodian government was already in the process of releasing the crew of the Mayaguez and the ship. Forty-one American servicemen died, most of them in an accidental explosion during the attack.

May 13


Some 100 English colonists arrived along the east bank of the James River in Virginia and founded Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. Dispatched by the London Company, the colonists sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery. The first Colonial Council was chosen by King James I and included John Smith, whose interactions with Pochahontas would lead to many myths and tales. During the next two years, disease, starvation, and Native American attacks wiped out most of the colony, but the London Company continually sent more settlers and supplies. Jamestown finally became economically viable when they started planting tobacco in 1612. The settlement remains an archeological dig site to this day.


The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly voted in favor of President James K. Polk’s request to declare war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas. After nearly two years of often fierce fighting, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo brought peace. The Rio Grande became the southern boundary of Texas. Mexico ceded California and New Mexico to the United States. In return, the United States paid Mexico $15 million — some $480 million today — and agreed to settle all claims by U.S. citizens against the Mexican government. The war added millions of square miles to America’s Western frontier, at the cost of more than 13,000 U.S. lives. It also left a bitter political aftertaste, which persisted well into the latter years of the 19th century.


Frasier, one of the most critically acclaimed comedy series of all time, aired its final episode to an audience of 33 million on NBC. A spinoff of Cheers, it continued the story of psychiatrist Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), who returned to his hometown, Seattle, as a radio show host. He reconnected with his father, Martin, a retired police officer, and his younger brother, Niles, a fellow snobby psychiatrist. The show was known for its high level of comedic wit and won a record setting total of 37 Primetime Emmy Awards during its 11-year run. Grammar played Frasier Crane for 20 years on three different shows; Cheers, Frasier and Wings. A revival has been greenlit for 2022 on Paramount+.


May 14


One year after the United States doubled its territory with the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark expedition left St. Louis, Missouri, on a mission to explore the Northwest from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Even before the U.S. government concluded purchase negotiations with France, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned his private secretary Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, an army captain, to lead an expedition into what is now the U.S. Northwest. On this day, the “Corps of Discovery”—featuring approximately 45 men (although only an approximate 33 men would make the full journey)—left St. Louis for the American interior. The expedition returned nearly two and a half years later.


Skylab, America’s first space station, was successfully launched into an orbit around the earth. Eleven days later, three astronauts made a rendezvous with Skylab, repairing a jammed solar panel and conducting scientific experiments during their 28-day stay aboard the space station. The American space station was a great success, safely housing three separate three-man crews for extended periods of time and exceeding pre-mission plans for scientific study. Five years after the last Skylab mission, the space station’s orbit began to deteriorate faster than expected, owing to unexpectedly high sunspot activity. On July 11, 1979, the parts of the space station that did not burn up in the atmosphere came crashing down on Australia and into the Indian Ocean.


Legendary singer, actor and show-business icon Frank Sinatra, also known as Ol' Blue Eyes, The Voice and Chairman of the Board, died of a heart attack in Los Angeles at the age of 82. Sinatra emerged from an Italian-American family in Hoboken, New Jersey to become the first modern superstar of popular music, with an entertainment career that spanned more than five decades. Sinatra also appeared in 58 films, winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1953. By the late 1950s, Sinatra had become the epitome of show-business success and glamorous, rough-edged masculinity. He even headed up his own entourage, known as the Rat Pack, which included Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop.

May 15


President John Adams ordered the federal government to pack up and leave Philadelphia and set up shop in the nation’s new capital in Washington, D.C. After Congress adjourned its last meeting in Philadelphia on May 15, Adams told his cabinet to make sure Congress and all federal offices were up and running smoothly in their new headquarters by June 15, 1800. Philadelphia officially ceased to serve as the nation’s capital as of June 11, 1800.


A bill establishing a women’s corps in the U.S. Army became law, creating the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACs) and granting women official military status. The women performed a wide variety of jobs, “releasing a man for combat,” as the Army, sensitive to public misgivings about women in the military, touted. But those jobs ranged from clerk to radio operator, electrician to air-traffic controller. Women served in virtually every theater of engagement, from North Africa to Asia. It would take until 1978 before the Army would become sexually integrated, and women participating as merely an “auxiliary arm” in the military would be history. And it would not be until 1980 that 16,000 women who had joined the earlier WAACs would receive veterans’ benefits.


After decades of environmental damage and legal wrangling, General Electric finally began its government-mandated efforts to clean the Hudson River. One of America's largest and most prestigious corporations, GE had dumped polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a harmful compound manufactured for GE by Monsanto, into the Hudson from 1947 to 1977 and spent a fortune trying to avoid the cleanup. The State of New York banned fishing in the Upper Hudson in 1976 due to the pollution. The dredging, which cost GE $1.6 billion, lasted from 2009 until 2015. The state still warns children and those who may bear children against eating fish and other wildlife caught in the Hudson, advising adult men to limit their consumption, as well as counseling citizens to try to avoid swallowing the river's water.

May 16

Best Flag


The U.S. Senate voted against impeaching President Andrew Johnson and acquitted him of committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The main issue in Johnson’s trial was his staunch resistance to implementing Congress’ Civil War Reconstruction policies. The War Department was the federal agency responsible for carrying out Reconstruction programs in the war-ravaged southern states and when Johnson fired the agency’s head, Edwin Stanton. Congress retaliated by charging Johnson with illegally removing the secretary of war from office and for violating several Reconstruction Acts.

Best Flag


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out its first awards, at a dinner party for around 250 people held in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, California. The brainchild of Louis B. Mayer, head of the powerful MGM film studio, the Academy was organized in May 1927 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement and improvement of the film industry. The first official Best Picture winner was Wings, directed by William Wellman. The most expensive movie of its time, with a budget of $2 million, the movie told the story of two World War I pilots who fall for the same woman.

Best Flag


Broadcast journalist and TV personality Barbara Walters retired from ABC News and as co-host of the daytime program “The View.” In a landmark career that spanned some 50 years on air, the 84-year-old Walters blazed a trail for women in TV news. On Walter’s May 16th “View” sendoff, Oprah Winfrey, Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric were among the more than two dozen female broadcasters who appeared on the show to pay tribute to the legendary newswoman. Best known for her interviews, over the decades Walters went one-on-one with American presidents (she interrogated every commander in chief from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama), world leaders, movie stars, convicted killers and scores of other newsmakers.

May 17

Best Flag


Best Flag


The crew of the Memphis Belle, one of a group of American bombers based in Britain, became one of the first B-17 crews to complete 25 missions over Europe and return to the United States. The Memphis Belle performed its last mission in a bombing raid against Lorient, a German submarine base. At the time, the odds of completing a 25-mission tour and going home were small. During the Memphis Belle’s tour, the Eighth Air Force averaged one bomber lost every 18 sorties (one sortie equals one aircraft flying one combat mission). The Memphis Belle and its crew became timeless symbols of the service and sacrifice of the heavy bomber crews and support personnel who helped defeat Nazi Germany.

Best Flag


In a major civil rights victory, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, ruling that racial segregation in public educational facilities is unconstitutional. The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin. Brown v. Board of Ed served to greatly motivate the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of racial segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

Best Flag


The FBI concluded their investigation into the hit “Louie Louie," made famous by The Kingsmen, and declared the lyrics to be officially unintelligible. Based on outcry from parents who bought into what may have started as an idle rumor, the FBI launched a formal investigation in 1964 into the supposedly pornographic lyrics of the song “Louie, Louie.” Over the course of two years, the FBI gathered many versions of the putative lyrics to the song and interviewed the song writer, Richard Berry. They even turned the record over to the audio experts in the FBI laboratory. While not quite exonerating “Louie Louie,” the FBI did not censor the tune that would go on to become one of the most-covered songs in rock-and-roll history.

May 18

Best Flag


Abraham Lincoln, a one-time U.S. representative from Illinois, was nominated for the U.S. presidency by the Republican National Convention meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Lincoln first gained national stature during his campaign against Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois for a U.S Senate seat in 1858. The senatorial campaign featured a remarkable series of public encounters on the slavery issue, known as the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in which Lincoln argued against the spread of slavery while Douglas maintained that each territory should have the right to decide whether it would become free or slave state. Lincoln lost the Senate race, but his campaign brought national attention to the young Republican Party. The announcement of Lincoln’s Presidential victory signaled the secession of the Southern states.

Best Flag


Mount St. Helens, a volcanic peak in southwestern Washington, was shaken by an earthquake of about 5.0 magnitude and violently erupted. The giant landslide of rock and ice, one of the largest recorded in history, was followed and overtaken by an enormous explosion of steam and volcanic gases, which surged northward along the ground at high speed. The lateral blast stripped trees from most hill slopes within six miles of the volcano and leveled nearly all vegetation for as far as 12 miles away. Initially standing at 9,680 feet, the peak lost 1,700 feet and its volcanic cone. 57 people were killed and some 210 square miles of wilderness was devastated. While Mount St. Helens became active again in 2004, scientists do not expect a repeat of the 1980 catastrophe anytime soon.

Best Flag


Facebook, the world’s largest social network, held its initial public offering (IPO) and raised $16 billion. It was the largest technology IPO in American history to that date, and the third-largest IPO ever in the United States, after those of Visa and General Motors. At the time it went public, Facebook was valued at $104 billion and had some 900 million registered users worldwide. However, despite all the fanfare surrounding Facebook’s IPO, its shares closed the first day of trading at $38.23, only slightly above the $38 IPO price, which many investors considered a disappointing performance.

Rowenna Remulta